The law of Jehovah with its ten commandments was given on Mount Sinai in the midst of darkness and a storm. This law can be found in the book of Exodus, chapter 20, verses one through 18.
The law of love was given by Jesus Christ who said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another” (John 13:34). It is fit to remember that the commandment of love that Jehovah gave is in Lev. 19:18, that says: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Let us imagine that a person, in his own weak judgment, likes to drink and to smoke. If he loves his neighbor as he loves himself, he is going to teach him to smoke and to drink. If he likes to play cards, he will invite his friend whom he loves to it. Loving the neighbor as oneself is of an inferior level, many times a low one. The love with which Christ has loved us is sublime and heavenly, love that renounces to everything, gives everything, endures everything, hopes everything, and endures everything. This is the measure of the commandment of Christ: to love as he has loved us. Every Christian should love as Christ has loved us, or he is not a Christian. And the one who does not love in this way does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).
Love is superior to the law of Jehovah, for the apostle Paul says: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). (And it is obvious that he loves his neighbor as Christ has loved). And Paul goes on: “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not give false testimony,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love doesn’t harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:9-10). If I love my neighbor as Christ love, I fulfill the law, for this love is superior to the law. This is why the end of the law is Christ, for the righteousness of every one who believes (Rom. 10:4).
The law says to hate your enemy: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy” (Matt. 5:43). And Jesus goes on to say: “But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5:44-45). Love is infinitely superior to the law.
When the people heard the law spoken in a loud voice from the top of the mountain, there was fire, darkness, gloom, and the storm (Heb. 12:18). But whoever loves, this one is in the light, and there is no scandal in him (1 John 2:10); therefore, love is more sublime and perfect than the law.
Now, if love is superior to the law, the law is not the pure truth, for this reason John, in his gospel, said: “For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). In other words, truth did not come through Christ. If the law were the truth, Moses would have been the Christ, and Jesus would not have need to have come, since men would be saved by keeping the law, but salvation reached men only through Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:15). And the law of Moses makes the sacrifice of Christ invalid, causing the saved to fall from the grace; therefore, the law is not only inferior to love, but it is an enemy of love, as we read in Gal. 5:1-4, which says: “Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don’t be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace”.
Second, grace is superior to the law, therefore the law is not the truth, for the law imputes sin, but grace is total forgiveness (Rom. 5:13). Since in grace there is complete forgiveness, Paul says: “For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). Being superior to the law, grace annulled the strength of sin, which is the law, and so Paul said: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). Without the grace of Christ, the law works the passion of sins in the flesh, which lead to death, for we die to that in which we were caught up, to serve in newness of spirit, not in the oldness of the letter (Rom. 7:6).
Third, faith is superior to the law, for it is written: “and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (At. 13:39). We definitely conclude that the law is not the truth.
“Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). Therefore, the law is not the truth. The law does not make men righteous, or, even if they fulfill the precepts of the law, men are not righteous. David prayed to Jehovah: “Don’t enter into judgment with your servant, for in your sight no man living is righteous” (Ps. 143:2). The apostle Paul reveals us the following: “for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “As it is written, “There is no one righteous; no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). The law is not perfect because it awakes sinful passions that lead to death (Rom. 7:5), and also the desires of the flesh that are unclean (Rom. 7:7-8; 2 Pet. 2:10). How does Jehovah say that the one who keeps the law is righteous? “has walked in my statutes, and has kept my ordinances, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, says the Lord Yahweh” (Ezek 18:9). “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright, gracious, merciful, and righteous” (Ps. 112:4). It is a great inconsistency to read in both the Old and the New Testaments that there is not a righteous man on the earth, and to have 100 passages in the Old Testament that refer to the righteous men.
In the New Testament the righteous are those men who are justified by Jesus Christ, as Paul said: “who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Why does justification work in the resurrection, and not in the death of Christ? The reason is: in death, the sinner ceases to exist, for he is condemned, and in this case there is justification only if the condemned man lives again. Now, Christ took over him our sins and became guilty in our place, and so died on the cross. But the guilty Christ raises up from the dead and justifies those who believe, who will also be resurrected in the end. In the letter to the Hebrews we read: “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, without sin, to those who are eagerly waiting for him for salvation” (Heb. 9:28). Why is it written that Christ will appear a second time, without sin? That is because when he died, he was a sinner in our place, but the resurrection destroys the sin of those who believe. We conclude that faith is superior to the law.
As we have seen, the law of love is much superior to the law of Jehovah. The grace of Christ is much superior to the law of Jehovah. Faith is also much superior to the law of Jehovah. Therefore the covenant of the law expired and is going to come to an end (Heb. 8:13). The law expired, and became old and inefficient (Rom. 7:6). Why did it expire? Because the ministry of the law, which is that of the letter, carved in stone, only kills, and is therefore called the ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:6-7). In the New Testament the ministry of the Spirit vivifies. The ministry of the law is the ministry of condemnation, and not the ministry of salvation, and so it is transitory (2 Cor. 3:9-11). That is why the author of Hebrews boldly refers to the law of Jehovah as follows: “For there is an annulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God” (Heb. 7:18-19). What hope? The hope to believe in Jesus Christ—for outside of him there is no salvation—and to adopt and obey the law of love, that is, to love the wrong and guilty as Christ has loved us.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira